Alex Horne - "Winning Countdown is the greatest achievement of my life"
“Oh excuse me I’ve got a child stuck between a balloon and a radiator here – oh there we go he’s out now!”
These are the words of fuzzy-faced charmer Alex Horne as he chats affably to me over the phone. In the interests of child safety may I stress that Alex is indeed a very watchful father and the radiator is not, in fact, turned on.
With two boys under the age two and another child on the way, this Cambridge graduate has more than enough to be getting on with but has this affected the production of his new show Seven Years in The Bathroom?
“I think having children actually helps my comedy because I don’t worry as much about what happens on stage in a way,” he reasons, “I still care but because I have other things on my mind I’m not as worried and I think that’s made me a better comedian in some ways.”
But if you’re worried this erudite entertainer has suddenly turned his attentions to nappy jokes and ‘aren’t kids crazy?’ humour, don’t be. “While I do find my children lovely and often very funny,” he says, “I don’t want to become the sort of comedian that talks about them the whole time because I think it can be slightly tedious for those who don’t have kids!”
His newest offering is as delightfully abstruse as ever; essentially an hour-long reconstruction of the average person’s entire life, toilet time included. “I usually do a show about a ‘thing’ and this year it’s about statistics – how much time we spend in our life doing various things,” he says, “I kind of physically re-create everything you do in your life but in an hour so its quite ridiculous and stupid and messy but there are a few jokes in there too.”
Is ‘messy’ a specific reference to time spent, ahem, in the bathroom?
“No, no” he reassures me “actually the ‘eating’ bit is the messiest. It is quite a shambolic show but in quite a good way.”
Another feature of Alex’s stand-up is his joy at getting the audience involved in proceedings and this is a dominant feature of the show which will be running in The Stand later this week. “I love getting the audience involved in this show and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how willing they are to get stuck in, maybe I’ve been quite good at picking them but they’ve been very funny so far.”
I’ll risk a cliché here by saying that this Chesham-based fellow is not your average comic; he has written two books, confesses an early passion for journalism (I tried to put him off that one), has produced a BBC documentary on ancient sports such as cricket on horseback and also has a degree in Latin.
It’s perhaps this penchant for all things quirky combined with an impressive academic background which explains his other acclaimed show, The Horne Section which now runs on BBC radio 4 and has featured top notch funnymen David O’Doherty. Simon Amstell and Jimmy Carr. The 33 year-old will be bringing his brand of jazz-fusion back to the Edinburgh fringe this summer to open the minds of a new audience to his humorous five-piece band’s chaotic humour.
“It’s great fun,” he says, “a late night jazz, comedy, party thing. It will be me the band and a couple other comedians doing their stuff. It’s not really jazz to be honest, it’s largely improvised and pretty stupid but great fun nonetheless.”
But with so many projects vying for his attention, what will Alex be focusing on for the future?
“Documentaries is kind of what I want to do,” he declares “I did the sports one a few years ago and I really enjoyed it, its quite nice not having the pressure of having to get a laugh every 30 seconds and I can see myself going gradually down that route.”
There is one achievement that Mr Horne places above others however and that is a three game winning streak in a certain intellectual game show.
“Winning three Countdowns is the greatest achievement of my life, even including my children – I’m much more excited about my victories!”